A really angry guide to productivity tools

Published: October 27, 2022

Hi. I’m a CS student @ UIUC. Sometimes it’s hard to stay on top of your stuff. Here is how to become a master productivity-er even when you are as lazy as me.

  • Originally published on Medium

Technology I use

  • Apple M1 Laptop. Awesome battery life. iMessage. Clean UI. Get the pro if you are rich AF. Get the long extension cable. The fucking block sucks.
  • Windows Desktop. Gaming + Game Development + Virtual Machines, you want to be on Windows for any beefy computational work. Second monitor. 2 monitors = 200% productive.
  • Mechanical Keyboard. I annoy the shit out of my roommate. You can too.

My workflow

Use Google Calendar. It’s good.

Stop forgetting assignments. Use Todoist. It has a google calendar integration and natural language processing for setting reminders. You can say “math hw due every Tuesday, and Thursday at 11:59pm”. Boom, bi-weekly reminders popup on your google calendar + notifications. Customize notifications using google calendar time from the event.

Stop using the notes app. Use Obsidian. Take notes easily, draw sketches easily. Mobile/Laptop/Desktop sync. Notion without the complexity.

Stop using Chrome. Bravehas a built-in ad blocker. Built-in dark mode. I don’t want bad vision.

Use VSCode. Don’t spend hours customizing your neovim instance just to turn it into a shitty VSCode. You are not a 10x developer.

These tools suck. Make them better.

Improving Brave

  • Stop using Chrome autofill. Get Bitwarden. A free password manager with sync, and simple autofill.
  • Block literally every ad. Get uBlock Origin.
  • Stop writing shitty essays. Get Grammarly. Get an A.
  • Stop pulling out your phone for 2FA. Get Authenticator.
  • Wikipedia looks like shit. Wikiwandmakes it less shit.
  • Get inspired. I use momentumfor my new tab page.
  • Organize your shit. Use just the icons for sites. Use folders for class bookmarks. image
  • Stop having 3000 tabs. Use tab groups for each class.

Improving Obsidian

  • Fuck it. Get the Sync. Worth paying 5$/month instead of using version control for syncing your notes or learning an overcomplicated overengineered thing like Notion.
  • Get Excalidraw Plugin. Embed clean AF drawings right into your notes.
    Latex. Easy Markdown syntax. Easy drawing built in.

Improve VSCode

Stop looking over their shoulder for pair programming. Use VSCode live share. Google docs for code.

Write good code. Use Prettier. Use PyLance. Use Intellisense. Write Latex with VSCode.

Use GitHub Copilot. Get the Student Pack if you haven’t already. It was trained on your code to write code faster than you.

Improving your Mac

  • Be knowledgable. Show your actual battery stats. Show your CPU/Ram usage. Get stats.
  • Stop opening Google Calendar. Get Itsycal.
  • Play Spotify on computer speakers at 50% volume, but a lecture on headphones at 30% volume. Get SoundSource. 🏴‍☠️Don’t pay for it.🏴‍☠️
  • Stop trying to perfectly line up two windows in a split screen. Get Rectangle.
  • Stop using the little pencil in preview mode to edit your pictures. Get FlameShot. Edit screenshots easily.
  • Stop losing your copy-paste (and your mind). Get CopyClip. It saves your clipboard history.

Improving Mac Development

  • Stop clicking on download links. Use brew to install terminal apps and GUI apps.
  • Use Iterm2. The default terminal sucks. Make it better. Use zsh. Bash is an ancient shell. Get oh-my-zsh for the plugins. Then get a git version control plugin. Boom, no more git status checks.
  • Need Windows? Need Linux? Use Parallels. 🏴‍☠️PD-Runner🏴‍☠️. Runs natively on ARM with the hypervisor. It’s fast.
  • Dependency Hell for your project? Stop. Use Docker. It’s 2022.

Improving Windows

Ascend into ultra CS Major. Wallpaper Engine.

My background. The water moves. The clouds move. I want to look at a cloud while I descend into madness.

Flameshot. Docker. oh-my-zsh. Duh.

WSL 2 + Windows Terminal. Fuck Powershell. Fuck the command prompt. Don’t pore over the details of the distro, just use Ubuntu LTS. It’s simple. It works. I don’t need to squeeze an extra 10% perf out of my distro, and neither should you. Forward your Ubuntu GUI Apps with VcXsrv.


I don’t hate you, just your workflow. Be efficient. Go party. Watch that Netflix series. Stop doing work.

Let's stay in touch.

/ © 2024 Pete Stenger /